We’ve all heard of some of the bizarre fad diets of the past- like the smoking diet, where instead of reaching for a snack you grab a ‘much healthier’ cigarette, or the tapeworm diet where you eat a load of tapeworms so that they eat all of the food in your stomach for you. Honestly, it’s mind-boggling that the human race has even got this far…
A fad diet is often categorised as an on-trend diet, sometimes encouraged by celebrities or social media influencers, that promises easy and rapid weight loss. They can come in a number of shapes and sizes, and often lure people in with their seemingly simplistic answers to weight loss, which are usually more damaging than beneficial.
I mean, I’d personally prefer a stomach full of healthy food than tapeworms, but each to their own. Even the fad diets of today are unhealthy at the heart and completely unsustainable. Though you may lose weight at first, this weight often returns with a vengeance.
With each fad diet we should be asking ourselves- Could I live the rest of my life on this diet? If the answer is no, it’s probably a fad. Read on for our top fad diets, and why you should steer clear of them.
Detox tea plans
The premise of a detox tea diet is simple enough- you purchase the speciality, (overpriced), often 14-28 day tea pack plans and drink them. These teas are herbal blends that are consumed both in the morning and evening to help ‘detox’ your body. Some detox tea diet programmes include diet changes while others claim that you can continue eating whatever fancy. A drink that makes you lose weight without changing how you eat at all? Sounds too good to be true right? That’s because it most definitely is.
Most detox plans include a morning tea, which is chock-a-block with caffeine and dandelion root, and an evening tea, which contains high levels of senna. Let’s break these ingredients down, shall we?
Dandelion root and caffeine are both diuretics- meaning they cause your body to produce more urine, which helps to reduce excess liquid in the body. Senna is a laxative often prescribed to help treat constipation and clear the bowels before a colonoscopy.
Weight loss from these detox teas is basically just down to a loss in water weight as opposed to fat loss, because you’re just going to be sat on the toilet all day. You’re losing all the water in your body because it is all being forcibly flushed out, so you’re going to be absolutely parched and reach for another tea and the vicious cycle continues. Alongside this, you’re losing loads of your necessary and valuable vitamins and minerals which can make our heart, muscles and nerves very unhappy. You might say it will break your heart and get on your nerves.. ha ha ha… I’ll see myself out.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), other side effects of Senna include kidney issues, diarrhoea, electrolyte imbalance, stomach cramps, blood in the urine, skin reactions, and urine discolouration.  This doesn’t sound very detox to us.
Some of the ingredients can also interact with medications and reduce their efficiency, which can be a recipe for disaster for people on specific medications, and cause some unexpected surprises for those on the contraceptive pill. And the real kicker? All the weight you’ve lost will come back on quite literally the day after you stop the plan and stop drinking diuretics. You may as well be eating tapeworms (PLEASE don’t).
The irony of this diet is that our body doesn’t need a tea or juice cleanse to detoxify our bodies. Our liver, kidneys and gut do all the detoxing for us naturally, so why waste the time and money?
Could you live the rest of your life on this diet? No way.
There are definitely a number of herbal teas that can be utilised for a healthy lifestyle, such as chamomile tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea, echinacea tea, lemon balm tea, and more. These natural teas can help boost the immune system, speed the metabolism, and carry a range of other gentle benefits that we will always recommend enjoying with care. Unlike tea detoxes, these kinds of natural and herbal teas are much better for the body, and won’t overuse your toilet’s flush function.
Beyoncé’s 22-day diet
Hold up, we don’t love this diet like we love you, Beyoncé. The 22-day diet, patented by the Queen Bee herself, is another crash diet that we simply do not recommend. The premise for this diet is to cut all bread, carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, fish, and alcohol from our diet. Ouch.
The short and short of this diet is that it is far too restrictive. We need carbohydrates for energy, but most good meat-free protein sources also include carbs, so please Bey, where do we get our protein?
Limiting protein causes low blood pressure and lowers our muscle mass, which can make it harder to lose weight.
Limiting carb intake can cause headaches, tiredness, lowered cognitive abilities, and more. They are a key source of energy and nutrients, and without them, we may experience deficiencies in fibre, B vitamins, Vitamin E and phytonutrients. How are we meant to run the world under these conditions?
You will see results in the diet due to the fact that by restricting so many foods you will almost assuredly be eating in a caloric deficit, however, you won’t be receiving all the healthy nutrients which are irreplaceable to our bodies. With such a low-calorie diet your metabolism is going to completely crash, which means when the 22 days are over you’re likely to put back on all the weight you lost and more. Sucks to be you right now.
Restricting entire food groups is simply never necessary for weight loss, and here at Balance Box, we like to feel the health benefits of every single food group. Weight loss can be far simpler if you eat great, wholesome meals each day. Choose your menu here.
Could you live the rest of your life on this diet? No. Make this diet the best thing you never had.
(Sorry Yonce, we still love you though)
Meal replacement shakes
Meal replacement shakes are, shockingly, shakes that you drink instead of meals. These shakes are often lower-calorie and fortified with nutrients to help you lose weight without really having to think about it all that much. They do the job of filling you up, but I think we can all agree that there’s something a bit… meh… about drinking shakes for the rest of your days. No more avocado? Behave.
We’re not that angry with meal replacement shakes- except for the ones that contain a load of added sugars, partly hydrogenated vegetable oils and artificial flavours and preservatives- meaning you’re drinking more of a milkshake than a healthy shake.
While the acceptable shakes contain nutrients, they will never truly be able to replace real whole foods that are bursting with enzymes, antioxidants and plant compounds. You can’t really liquify all the nutrients in the major food groups, and if you did I’m genuinely scared at how that would taste- a vegetable, meat, ricey blend with some sweetness? Thanks but no thanks. Plus, the crux of a healthy lifestyle is eating well, and replacing your meals with fluid doesn’t really help you change your eating habits.
Some meal replacement shake plans require you to eat just one meal a day and drink shakes for the other two meals, which means you can try and get your nutrients in from real food, but you have to make sure that meal is a good one, not one full of sugar or fat, sadly.
Could you live the rest of your life on this diet? Maybe you could, but ingesting more liquid than solid each day just doesn’t appeal to us.
Cabbage soup diet
The name says it all- the cabbage soup diet requires you to eat, you guessed it, cabbage soup. This diet is a ‘rapid weight loss’ diet which you’re only meant to follow for a week, though you’d be hard-pressed getting me to eat cabbage for more than a week straight. During this week you eat nothing but your own homemade batch cooked cabbage soup, as well as 1-2 other foods like milk, a baked potato, and other fruits and veg (but no bananas? Cryptic).
On each day you basically eat as much cabbage soup as you like, you lucky thing. Due to the super low-calorie numbers in the soup, you’re almost guaranteed to be in an extremely large calorie deficit so will almost definitely lose weight in the week. Your metabolism, however, will be completely crashed, and the second you start eating normally again the weight will come screaming back. Noticing a pattern with these diets?..
This is also an extremely restrictive diet that lacks significant diversity which our gut needs to keep us functioning well. Cabbage is full of fibre, which is great in normal quantities, but with as much soup as you’re drinking you’ll be experiencing nausea, flatulence and cramping, as well as light-headedness and weakness. Gas and dizziness? What could be better!
Plus, a 1-week diet is simply not long enough for any meaningful weight loss, and because the body can only burn so much fat in this time, only 34% of your weight loss will be fat.  The rest will be muscle mass- which will slow your metabolism, and water weight.
Could you live the rest of your life on this diet? You’ll be miserable, dehydrated and smell like cabbages. For our sake, please don’t.
At Balance Box, we believe that to lose weight well and be healthy you should never have to cut out food groups, drink a liquid diet, or detox with teas and various other substances. That’s why our boxes allow you to eat from all of the food groups and enjoy what you eat while getting all of your vitamins, minerals and nutrients each day to live a healthy and happy life. We love helping you eat naturally and cleanly, so choose from our plans here and find the best healthy menu for you.
“My philosophy is that you can reach your health goals whilst enjoying delicious, nutritionally balanced and convenient food.” – Jennifer Irvine, Founder of Balance Box.